I am coming up on five years in recovery from drugs and alcohol. A remarkable feat for me personally as I spent many years attempting to get sober. From the ages of 21 to 26, I went to a handful of treatment centers. Going in, I truly did want to stop doing drugs and wanted the pain to stop. There’s so much more to getting and staying sober than really wanting to stop, however.
It’s no secret that it is hard to achieve long term sobriety. For me, it was hard to string a few months together. I knew I couldn’t use drugs successfully. I knew I wanted to stop. Why wasn’t that enough? The answer was simple. I hadn’t truly surrendered.
Making My Own Decisions
I would hear about surrender all the time while in rehab. I thought for a long time that surrender just meant acknowledging that I understand I can no longer use drugs. I would be asked if I surrender, and I’d say, ‘Yeah, sure.’. I didn’t understand it was much deeper than that. Maybe someone tried to explain it to me, but it fell on deaf ears.
I thought I had all the answers.
When I entered treatment, I would always say I was willing to do anything it takes to get and stay sober. I truly felt the desperation for the first week or two. Then, something would happen. I would start to feel better by eating and sleeping regularly. Once I would feel better, all of a sudden, I wouldn’t be so willing to do anything it takes.
My ideas on what I should do after treatment began to sound like the best option; this is what always would happen.
There’s a tricky thing about this type of experience. It’s an experience I have seen hundreds of people fall victim to. The tricky part is that our ideas of how to conduct our lives have good intentions.
A big thing for me was I would be in treatment in Florida and always want to go back to my hometown. Everyone at the rehab would tell me it’s a terrible idea to go home, but I would want to anyway and would decide to go and not follow any guidance.
My intentions were always good. I truly wanted to stay sober. Then I would get home, and for whatever inexplicable reason – reasons I can’t even pinpoint to this day – I would relapse within a month. I suppose there were a lot more distractions at home. It was easy to fall back into old ways at home. Whatever it was, it would be my own ideas and decisions that would cause me to relapse.
I hadn’t truly surrendered yet.
My Moment of Surrender
An unfortunate part of recovery is that to finally surrender, you usually need to feel enough pain. Many people need to be completely broken before they realize they need to give up in the decision making business.
I had to.
It was around March of 2015. I had been fired from my father’s company in October of 2014 for a multitude of reasons. It broke his heart. I fled from New Jersey to South Florida after destroying everything around me.
I was renting a cheap, disgusting room in Florida and was more isolated than I had ever been in life. I would stay up for days at a time getting high, and wouldn’t talk to anyone, especially my family. I had never felt so isolated from the world.
On March 17, 2015, my mom called me. My dad had died; he had a heart attack. I was devastated.
I hadn’t communicated with him in six months. Thankfully, I had the chance to talk to him three days before he died.
We had a pretty deep talk, and it’s something I will be forever grateful for. If I hadn’t talked to him those couple of days before he died, I think it would have been even more devastating when it happened.
After the service, I spent two months crying myself to sleep every night. I was so lost. I had no control over anything anymore. I couldn’t hold a job. I couldn’t go out in public. I was utterly paralyzed by fear and anxiety. I would stay in my room all day and night.
On May 17, 2015, my mom informed me I could go to treatment again after dad left behind some money. I agreed to right away.
I was so beyond broken. I didn’t even think it was possible for me to heal or get better, though most of all, I did not trust myself.
When I got into treatment, I felt the desperation more than ever before. I also was so completely done with thinking I knew better than anyone else trying to help me. Early on, I decided within myself that I was going to do whatever I was told.
No more decision making. I just wanted guidance.
I could feel how sincere I was in my heart; I had to change. I had to for my dad. In my first week in treatment, I made a vow to myself to put my heart and soul into my recovery and to let whatever power that is out there guide my life.
It was the best decision I ever made. I had truly surrendered.
I wish there were a formula for surrender. We all have our moments when we need to throw up the white flag because we have run out of options. It happens at different times. My only hope is that people who are at their wit’s end read this and realize they need to stop calling the shots in their life.
If you knew how to stay sober, you would have done it already. Let somebody who has been through it show you.
About the Author: Daniel is a freelance writer, writing for sites like definingwellness.com. He has been sober for nearly five years and believes anyone can get sober provided they are ready to take action.
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The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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